Tag Archives: Defy

Giant Defy Advanced 2 – 1000 km later

A couple of months ago, I wrote a review (more of an impression) of the Giant Defy Advanced 2 (DA2) having put just a handful of rides on it. Since then, I’ve racked up some miles and wanted to give a longer-term review of Giant’s endurance bike.

When the weather has been nice this spring, I’ve had a hard time deciding whether to hit the road or take the mountain bike out.  I love mountain biking, and also have a new mountain bike, but the Defy is such a joy to ride that there are days that opted to go climb hills just so I could fly down them again.  I’d leave the house, tell my wife I’d be home in a few hours, and give the bike its nose, exploring roads and paths I’d never been up before.

I took the Defy on chip sealed roads, bike paths, fresh pavement, into headwinds, out of tailwinds, and up a ridiculous number of hills.  I’ve done 50+ mile rides, and I’ve commuted to work, all 6 miles of it.  I stand by my original review that said it’s all about control.  At no point do I feel out of control on the Defy.  It handles predictably, it lends confidence when getting up out of the saddle to climb or sprint, and the disc brakes make stopping stress-free.  The carbon frame damps all but the roughest road, and I never got home with a sore butt from harsh miles over poorly-maintained county roads.

However, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows (just mostly).  The disc brakes seem to be the cheapest component on the bike, and have already developed a chatter.  The chatter is especially bad in the front brake.  It’s something I’ve experienced in low end mechanical disc brakes before, so it’s not surprising.  I think the bike needs a good set of BB7 Road brakes to elevate the braking experience to the rest of the bike.

I’m also not wild about the wheels.  I understand that for the price point, Giant had to make some compromises on components.  But, they are heavy!  I haven’t geeked out to put them on the scale yet, but I am certain that the rear is heavier than my race MTB wheel.

Of course the racer in me wants to buy new elite wheels, get the BB7 mechanical disc brakes (or even splurge for hydro!!), and go all carbon all the things.  But… then I think about what this bike is designed to do.  It’s designed to be a comfortable bike for long rides over all sorts of roads.  It’s not a race bike.  It’s not a time trial bike.  It’s not even a cyclocross bike.  It’s an endurance bike.

As an endurance bike, I couldn’t ask for anything more.  A 30 mile ride is just a warm up on the Defy.  It is wonderful to ride over any road surface.  It handles predictably.  It is stiff enough that when I get out of the saddle to power over the rise, I can feel the bike leaping forward with each pedal stroke.  In short, it’s the perfect bike for long, meandering spring rides through the hills, summer centuries, fall Gran Fondos, and winter shake-out-the-cobwebs rides.

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Giant Defy Advanced 2 Review

Defy-Advanced-2-Silver-RTIf I had to sum up the Giant Defy Advanced 2 (hereafter referred to as the DA2) in a single word it would be control.  Control over my speed.  Control over my climbs, my descents, and my turns. Control in the dry, in the wet, and in the wind.  The DA2 is just like the Matrix: all about control.

This is the first carbon fiber bike I’ve owned, but it’s also the first endurance-focused road bike I’ve owned. I have no idea whether what I feel on the bike is due to the material or the geometry, and I don’t care.  All I know is that from the first 15 mile ride home from the shop, this bike has fit me better than any road bike before, responds to my inputs with very predictable outputs, and is an absolute joy to ride.

I can only assume the carbon fiber has something to do with the fact that when I want to lay down the power, I instantly see the response in my speedometer. The bike doesn’t give at all when I crank down, even when I stand up to pedal. It just goes.  Likewise, I assume the geometry has something to do with how stable it is and how confident I feel getting out of the saddle to crest the numerous rolling hills around Maple Valley.

It’s obvious that the disc brakes are a huge boon in the Pacific Northwest.  They offer the best stopping power of any road bike I’ve ridden.  Sure, they aren’t the best disc brakes I’ve used, but they are far better than any rim brake I’ve had, and they are more than up to the challenge of stopping me on the bike in the wet.

Giant wisely chose to put 25mm shoes on this bike.  The tires feel great, very predictable around corners and on some of the sketchier, sandy or graveled turns on the back roads ‘round these parts. The downside is that they are “flat resistant” which is just code for heavy as all get out.  And I’ve already had a flat, so they aren’t so resistant.

Likewise, the wheels are basic.  Sure they have a nice aero profile, but they are super heavy, too.  I feel like the rear wheel weighs as much as the rest of the bike.  But, for the price point, I can’t complain too much.  They will be easy to upgrade down the line.

I originally planned to take the di2 groupset off my cyclocross bike and swap it over to the DA2.  The first few rides using the 105 level 2×11 drivetrain abolished that idea.  The shifting is incredibly crisp and clean.  The rear derailleur seems to find the gear before I even complete the shift.  Shimano has obviously learned some efficiency from their electronic grouppo because the front derailleur effortlessly shuttles the chain back and forth.

The DA2 is so much fun to ride that I’ve been choosing it over my mountain bike for the last few weeks.  That sounds like heresy to some, I know.  But, nothing compares to flying down a twisty road at max speed and carving the corners, knowing my tires will hold and the bike will track true.  Or being able to pop up hills without getting into the granny gear.  Just thinking about it now, I can’t help but smile and lust for the next sunny day to hit the pavement again.

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